The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain

Paul Preston

The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain

The remains of General Franco lie in an immense mausoleum near Madrid, built with the blood and sweat of 20,000 slave labourers. His enemies, however, met less exalted fates. In addition to those killed on the battlefield, tens of thousands of Spaniards were officially executed between 1936 and 1945, and as many again became ‘non-persons’, their fates as obscure as the nation’s collective memory of this terrible period. As the country slowly reclaims its historical memory after a long period of wilful amnesia, for the first time a full picture can be given of the escalation and aftermath of the Spanish Holocaust in all its dimensions – ranging from systematic killings and judicial murders to the abuse of women and children, imprisonment, torture and the grisly fate of Spaniards in the hands of the Gestapo. Reflecting more than a decade of research, and telling many stories of individuals from both sides, The Spanish Holocaust seeks to reflect the intense horrors visited upon Spain by the arrogance and brutality of the officers who rose up on 17 July 1936, provoking a civil war that was unnecessary and whose consequences still reverberate bitterly in Spain today. 4.8 out of 5 based on 10 reviews
The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre History
Format Hardback
Pages 720
RRP £30.00
Date of Publication March 2012
ISBN 978-0002556347
Publisher HarperPress
 

The remains of General Franco lie in an immense mausoleum near Madrid, built with the blood and sweat of 20,000 slave labourers. His enemies, however, met less exalted fates. In addition to those killed on the battlefield, tens of thousands of Spaniards were officially executed between 1936 and 1945, and as many again became ‘non-persons’, their fates as obscure as the nation’s collective memory of this terrible period. As the country slowly reclaims its historical memory after a long period of wilful amnesia, for the first time a full picture can be given of the escalation and aftermath of the Spanish Holocaust in all its dimensions – ranging from systematic killings and judicial murders to the abuse of women and children, imprisonment, torture and the grisly fate of Spaniards in the hands of the Gestapo. Reflecting more than a decade of research, and telling many stories of individuals from both sides, The Spanish Holocaust seeks to reflect the intense horrors visited upon Spain by the arrogance and brutality of the officers who rose up on 17 July 1936, provoking a civil war that was unnecessary and whose consequences still reverberate bitterly in Spain today.

We Saw Spain Die: Foreign Correspondents in the Spanish Civi War by Paul Preston

Reviews

The Daily Express

Christopher Silvester

Anyone who supposes that Franco’s regime was only mildly despotic and repressive should read this wonderful book about a horrible subject.

02/03/2012

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The Financial Times

Victor Mallet

... Preston’s subjective choice of adjectives and chapter titles (“A Terrified City Responds” covers the Paracuellos massacres) suggests that his sympathies indeed lie broadly with the Republicans. But he argues, first, that Republican officialdom often prevented extrajudicial killings and was exposed to critical international scrutiny when it failed, whereas the military rebels purposefully implemented a programme of terror that they even boasted about at the time. Second, he finds it necessary to correct the false equivalence of blame long accorded to the two sides as a result of Franco’s successful rewriting of history after he won. This is not just a matter of statistics, even if Preston’s evidence shows that the repression by Franco’s military rebels was “about three times greater” than that in the Republican zone.

09/03/2012

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The Guardian

Giles Tremlett

… an essential read for anyone wishing to understand Spain and its recent history. It is also a damning indictment of Franco's deliberate and far-reaching brutality, which destroys the myth cherished by some Spaniards that he was a "soft" dictator.

10/03/2012

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The Independent

Helen Graham

... Preston's contribution is a major one, both in tracing the fundamentalist origins of the military coup that unleashed the killing and in reconstructing its complex consequences. ... From the beginning, Preston "reminds" us that while the conflict in Spain evolved into the "war of two equal sides", as subsequently enshrined in Western consciousness, it began in July 1936 as something very different. It was a military assault on an evolving civil society and democratic regime in the name of the "true nation", in defence of which the rebels were prepared to kill, or "cleanse", as their rhetoric proclaimed. General Queipo de Llano, whose troops laid waste to south-western Spain, called it "the purification of the Spanish people".

02/03/2012

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The Literary Review

Michael Jacobs

Preston launches into his catalogue of horrors with the passion of an avenging angel, and a knowledge of the Civil War greater than that of any other contemporary historian. This lengthy book is at times as unsettling to read as it must have been to write ... Dense with information, it is also inevitably repetitive in its descriptions: the reader begins to lose track of the number of times men are forced to dig their own graves, and women to drink castor oil. But such accumulation of information is necessary to Preston’s argument, and made compelling through the energy of the writing and the author’s novelistic eye for detail

01/03/2012

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The Scotsman

Roger Hutchinson

Nobody will read the 500 fully-sourced pages of The Spanish Holocaust and nurse the vainest hope that the reputation of Franco’s rebels can ever be restored. History — Paul Preston’s scrupulous, painstaking, scholarly history — has damned them irretrievably.

10/03/2012

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The Spectator

David Gilmour

Reading Paul Preston’s narrative is like watching a Spanish Schindler’s List without a Spanish Schindler … those who love Spain should be warned before they read it.

10/03/2012

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The Sunday Times

Dominic Sandbrook

Exhaustively researched and masterfully written, Preston’s book is so harrowing that you often have to put it down; even its author writes feelingly of the “emotional cost” of his “daily immersion in this chronicle of inhumanity”. But it was worth it. The result is a book of extraordinary moral and emotional power, a classic of historical scholarship and a deeply affecting record of man’s inhumanity to man.

12/02/2012

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The Daily Telegraph

Jeremy Treglown

Preston’s book has been criticised for its title: rightly, I think … This element of sensationalism, compounded by the subtitle, “Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain”, risks turning history itself into an inquisition: something closer to a vengeful moral tribunal than an attempt to understand the past. It’s also more than a little self-defeating in that it has given people who ought to read the book a good excuse not to.

28/02/2012

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The Sunday Telegraph

Dan Jones

For the most part, this is a truly sickening book to read, partly because these things happened in the first place, partly because they were covered up for so long, and partly because they continue in war zones around the world today, even beneath the steady glare of globalised media.

02/03/2012

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